Student Profiles - Graduate

Jesse McLean
Completed PhD 2009
The decision to study neurodegenerative diseases at the PhD level was an exciting step forward for me. When choosing a graduate department, I recognized that my success would hinge upon exposure to cutting-edge research facilities and strong collaborations with passionate colleagues. Consequently, I was drawn to the breadth and depth of research performed within LMP, a department which brings together many elements of the research and medical communities in Toronto. I discovered that the... Read more
Current Position: James Hunter and Family ALS Research Fellow, Tanz CRND
Research Focus:

My current research focuses on developing stem cell and viral gene therapies for understanding and treating neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. I use CRISPR/Cas9 technology and patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells to identify the molecular and cellular correlates of disease and to translate these findings into novel in vitro and in vivo therapeutic models.

Joel Watts
Completed PhD 2008
For graduate studies, I chose LMP because of the world-class faculty members with expertise in neurodegenerative diseases. However, because of the unique diversity of interests within the department, I was exposed to many new fields of research, which helped prepare me for a career as an independent investigator in the biomedical sciences. LMP provided me with an ideal foundation for pursuing a career in academia, which helped me to obtain a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Nobel... Read more
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Tanz CRND, Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto
Research Focus:

My research focuses on developing animal and cell models of the prion diseases (such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans) as well as more common neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The aim of my work is to understand how pathological, prion-like protein aggregates spread throughout the brain and cause disease, with the ultimate goal of developing therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders in humans.

Stephen Rubino
Completed PhD 2013
The research that is conducted by the faculty and graduate students in LMP is of the highest quality and compares very favorably to any other research institution on the planet. The resources and expertise that are available in the department offer graduate students every opportunity to pursue their academic passions and, ultimately, to succeed in their chosen careers down the road.
Current Position: Research Fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Research Focus:

The role of innate immune pathways in neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases.

Vathany Kulasingam
Completed PhD 2008
Diversity is what attracted me to LMP. Diversity in the types of research conducted, where they are conducted and the diseases that are being investigated. It is this depth and breadth, and the interaction with a broad range of faculty members, clinicians and scientists that has helped me progress in my career. In addition, LMP’s Summer Research Program was instrumental in developing my interest in research.
Current Position: Clinical Biochemist UHN/Assistant Prof. U of T (LMP Primary Appointment)
Research Focus:

My main research focuses on identifying novel biomarkers for ovarian cancer in the blood by using high-throughput technologies. These markers may play a role in early diagnosis, prognosis, monitoring disease progression or risk stratification in ovarian cancer.

Michelle Gervais
Completed PhD 2008
I did my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Michael Ohh, where I was a Terry Fox Foundation scholar and an NSERC scholar. My PhD thesis focused on the role of the von Hippel-Lindau tumour suppressor protein in cellular adhesion. After completing my graduate studies in 2008, I was recruited to Deloitte’s Corporate Strategy practice as a management consultant. Recently, I joined Janssen as a Marketing Manager where I develop and implement marketing strategy and tactics to enhance patient care... Read more
Current Position: Marketing Manager, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Ian Watson
Completed PhD 2010
I received my PhD from the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) in 2010. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Dr. Lynda Chin at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas studying melanoma genetics and mouse models of cancer. My graduate training in LMP taught me the work required and quality of science needed to progress to the next stage in academic research. I found the most useful resource in LMP was its faculty, due to the fact that many faculty members are... Read more
Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas
Research Focus:

I am currently trying to understand the landscape of genetic alterations driving melanoma through analysis of whole exome sequencing and SNP array data from patient samples. I am applying this knowledge to develop genetically engineered mouse models recapitulating suspected driving mutations and copy number alterations in melanoma genes to create improved preclinical models to better understand this disease, test preclinical therapies, and develop novel therapeutic approaches.

Andrea Conroy
Completed PhD 2011
The research excellence and flexibility that LMP offered during my PhD allowed me to develop my highly specialized research niche in host biomarkers in infectious diseases. This experience has led to further research and I'm currently involved in a field trial testing a novel therapy for children with severe malaria in Jinja, Uganda with the University of Toronto.
Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto
Research Focus:

Investigate how globally important infections (malaria, HIV) contribute to poor fetal growth in pregnancy by impairing placental blood vessel development.

Edward Parker
Completed MSc 2011
Following my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Oxford University, my principal aim on deciding to undertake an MSc with LMP was to gain a deeper appreciation of the laboratory research environment. Although my long-term goal has always been to work in public health, I feel strongly that medical research is connected along a continuum: today’s innovations in the laboratory pave the way for tomorrow’s public health breakthroughs. In this respect, my experiences at the University of... Read more
Current Position: PhD Candidate, Imperial College London, School of Public Health, United Kingdom
Research Focus:

Vaccine epidemiology

Kevin Donato
Completed PhD 2010
The diversity of the department exposed me to a wide variety of research areas with a focus on mechanisms of disease. Currently, I use this specialized knowledge for my position in Regulatory Affairs at Health Canada. As a Scientific Evaluator, I am tasked with analyzing the potential risks of pharmaceuticals that Canadians use on a daily basis.
Current Position: Scientific Evaluator, Marketed Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Bureau, Health Canada
Andrei Drabovich
Completed Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2014
Numerous collaborations between basic research scientists and clinicians make LMP an outstanding department for biomedical research. The Annual LMP Graduate Research Conference, CLAMPS social events, seminars and Postgraduate Research Days create a stimulating scientific environment and encourage students and fellows to conduct top-quality research.
Current Position: Staff Scientist (UHN), Assistant Professor (LMP, U of T)
Research Focus:

My research program is aimed at improving diagnostics of prostate cancer and male infertility through protein biomarkers and advancing technical expertise in biological mass spectrometry and proteomics.

Nicole White
Currently Completing Postdoctoral Fellowship
The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) offers great diversity in research areas and a wonderful training experience which is why I was so attracted to this academic center for my post-doctoral fellowship. My current training focuses on the exciting field of epigenetics in prostate cancer and the identification of useful epigenetic marks for use as clinical biomarkers. The outstanding team work and vast expertise of scientists and clinicians within the department allows for... Read more
Research Focus:

My research aims to identify epigenetic events that occur in prostate cancer and how to best use these epigenetic changes as useful biomarkers. We use genome-wide methylation profiling to identify the most significant methylation events in prostate cancer vs. healthy normal prostate tissue. These data, along with patient clinical data is used to identify epigenetic changes that are potential clinical markers. We also use cell line models to help understand the effect of differential methylation on molecular pathways and biological functions.